We’ve all been there. You’re starving after a long day at work, and the only thing you can think about is a hot bowl of soup.
But when you get home, you realize that you don’t have any dishes left to reheat your soup in. And even if you did, you’re too tired to wash another dish.
So what do you do? You put the soup in a container and microwave it. But is that safe?
Here’s the quick answer:
In general, it is safe to microwave soup containers if the containers are made of glass or ceramic. For other types of containers such as styrofoam, plastic, and paper, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
There are several risks associated with microwaving non-microwave-safe soup containers.
Some materials, like styrofoam and plastic, can release harmful chemicals when microwaved. These chemicals can cause various health problems such as cancer and infertility.
Another risk of microwaving soup in a non-microwave safe container is that the container could break, melt, or worse, catch fire.
If you’re not sure if a container is microwave-safe, it’s best to avoid using it in the microwave.
Different Types of Soup Containers and Their Microwaving Safety
There are many different kinds of soup container materials. Each one has a different microwaving safety level, so it is important to check the manufacturer’s instructions before putting them in the microwave.
Some common soup container materials are glass, ceramic, cardboard, styrofoam, paper, and plastic. You may also come across containers that are made of compostable fiber.
Glass and Ceramic Soup Containers
The safest type of soup containers are made of glass or ceramic. Glass and ceramic materials do not release any chemicals when microwaved, so you will not have to worry about ingesting harmful chemicals. Furthermore, they can hold heat better than any other type of materials combined.
Cardboard Soup Containers
Cardboard containers are a type of soup container made of pure wood fiber or pulp without any additional materials.
In its purest form, cardboard is a safe container to use in the microwave. However, if there are any additional materials such as metal elements or plastic coating on the cardboard, then you should avoid microwaving it.
The plastic liners in the cardboard may melt and leak into your food when exposed to microwaves, putting you at the risk of cancer, infertility, and a plethora of other health problems.
Furthermore, if there is a metal element in the container, the container may spark and cause a fire.
While these risks might seem a bit farfetched to some people, they’re not worth taking when you consider how easy it is to wash another glass or ceramic dish instead.
Styrofoam Soup Containers
Styrofoam is a type of plastic. It can release harmful chemicals when microwaved, so you should not microwave styrofoam containers.
Even if they are labeled as being microwave-safe, I would prefer to err on the side of caution and avoid microwaving them as there is always some risk that the chemical release could happen in spots where the label does not mention.
Paper Soup Containers
Today, many soup containers are made of paper. These containers are the least microwaving-safe of all containers considering how easy they are to catch fire and fail to hold heat.
While it may be tempting to put a paper container in the microwave and save yourself some time, doing so is just asking for trouble. Paper containers are generally not microwave-safe unless they specifically state so on the label.
Aluminum Soup Containers
Aluminum containers are not safe to use in the microwave. Aluminum is a type of metal that will spark and burn when exposed to microwaves, so do not place aluminum containers into the microwave under any circumstances.
Plastic Soup Containers
As with paper, plastic soup containers are generally not microwave-safe unless they have a microwave-safe label or come from a trustworthy source. Plastic releases harmful chemicals when microwaved, so you should avoid microwaving it whenever possible.
Today, more and more manufacturers are exploring eco-friendly alternative materials that will be easy on the environment. One such alternative is compostable fiber containers that are usually made using biomass such as bamboo, corn starch, wood pulp, and sugar cane.
While these types of containers may be able to hold hot food, not all of them can be microwaved. Make sure to check the label before microwaving any compostable fiber container just to be safe.
How to Tell If a Soup Container Is Safe to Microwave?
Before microwaving any soup container, look for a microwave-safe symbol on the bottom. If there’s one, then it’s safe to reheat your soup in that container. If there isn’t a microwave-safe symbol, then you should check if the manufacturer has any recommendations.
If you’re not sure whether or not a container is microwave-safe, then follow this 3 step guide:
- Prepare a container that you’re certain is microwave-safe by filling it with water.
- Put the soup container in question and the microwave-safe container with water beside each other in the microwave.
- Microwave for one minute on the highest setting.
- Take both containers and carefully feel each with your hand.
If the soup container is hot while the other one isn’t, then it is not safe to microwave that particular soup container. On the other hand, if the water container is hot and the soup container isn’t, it indicates that the soup container is probably safe to put in the microwave.
The Best Way to Microwave Soup
The most common reason people reheat their soup in the microwave is that it’s quick and easy. All you have to do is put the soup container in the microwave and press a button. It’s a lot faster than using a stovetop or an oven.
Follow these guidelines to microwave soup in the safest manner possible:
- Prepare a microwave-safe container like a ceramic or glass dish and transfer your soup into it.
- Place the soup container into the microwave and cover it with plastic wrap or a microwave-safe cover.
- For soup from a can, set the power level and time according to the package instructions.
- For reheating homemade soup, microwave on high power for 1 minute, stirring halfway through the microwaving process.
- After one minute, take your food thermometer and check if the soup is heated thoroughly to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If not, microwave in 1-minute increments until the desired temperature is reached.
While it is safe to microwave some types of soup containers, it is always important to check the manufacturer’s instructions before doing so. In general, glass and ceramic containers are the safest to microwave.
Whenever possible, it’s best to transfer your soup into these microwave-safe containers before putting it in the microwave. This will ensure that you don’t have to worry about the container melting or releasing harmful chemicals.
1. Can You Microwave Chinese Soup Containers?
It’s possible to microwave some Chinese food containers, but make sure the container is microwavable before you put the soup in. For example, if there are metal handles on the container, remove them first.
2. Can You Microwave Whole Foods Soup Containers?
According to the official website of Whole Foods Market, it is okay to microwave their soup containers. In addition to being microwave-safe, Whole Foods also states that all of their containers are BPA-free.
3. Can You Microwave Panera Soup Cups?
Unfortunately, Panera soup cups are not made to be microwaved. You should transfer it into a microwave-safe container before heating it up.